Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Armenian News


War of words breaks out as public relations exercise by Baku representatives goes wrong.
By Samira Ahmedbeili in Baku, Sara Khojoian in Yerevan and Anahit Danielian in Stepanakert

A visit by Azerbaijani officials and cultural leaders to the self-declared state of Nagorno-Karabakh was
intended to build ties with its ethnic Armenian rulers, but degenerated into the usual verbal sparring within

However, analysts were wrong-footed by an unusually conciliatory statement from Azerbaijan's president
Ilham Aliev after the trip, in which he appeared sympathetic to some Armenian demands.

Nagorny Karabakh, ruled by Armenians but internationally considered part of Azerbaijan, has been a
block to good relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan since Soviet times.

More than a million refugees fled out of both countries before and during the war, which started in 1991
and ended with a ceasefire three years later. Since then, there have been almost no ties between the
two neighbouring nations, while Karabakh declared independence unilaterally.

Armenian forces control some 14 per cent of what Azerbaijan considers to be its territory, and
exchanges of fire are frequent over the line of control.

The visit to Karabakh, which started on July 3 and was headed by the ambassadors to Moscow of
both Armenia and Azerbaijan, was intended to help ease the tensions.

"I want to stress that neither Armenians nor Azeris are going to fly off into space. We must live together,
and therefore we need to create contacts, joint ties, create mutual respect between each other," Polad
Bulbuloglu, the Azerbaijan ambassador, told reporters in Karabakh.

But, even before he left the region, he had succeeded in offending the locals by following the terminology
used in Azerbaijan to describe Karabakh. He met Bako Sahakian, leader of the self-proclaimed state,
but presented it as just a meeting with local civil society figures, outraging political commentator David

"It is unacceptable that non-constructive statements should be made after a visit, as was done by this
Polad Bulbuloglu and his delegates. President Bako Sahakian from the start of the visit held onto the
principal of equality of the two sides, stressing that no other format was acceptable, including the
so-called possibility of holding talks between two communities," the commentator said.

"Such meetings are ineffective, since they once more make people angry, instead of creating an
atmosphere of trust, as the authors insist."

The misunderstandings pursued the delegates, who also visited Yerevan and Baku, throughout their
journey. On returning to the Azerbaijani capital, one delegate told a local news agency that the
Armenian president had told them he understood that Aghdam - a region of Azerbaijan outside
Nagorny Karabakh itself which is almost entirely controlled by Armenian forces - was not Armenian
land, and that he respected Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

The comments were disowned by a spokesman for the president, and provoked outrage in Yerevan.

"This is an arrogant lie," President Serzh Sargsian's spokesman said. "But we are no longer surprised
that the Azerbaijani delegates distorted the facts when they returned to Baku, since they always do.
The lack of tolerance from Azerbaijani society is clear."

Similar distrust was sparked in Baku, where the supposed peacemakers found themselves suspected
of selling out the interests of their country. Any suggestion that Karabakh is not actually part of
Azerbaijan meets fury in Baku, and Akif Nagi, head of the Organisation for the Liberation of Karabakh,
suggested that by meeting Sahakian, the delegates were effectively recognising his rule.

"As a result of such meetings the fact of the Armenian seizure of Azerbaijan's territory retreats into the
background. By making a statement. about visiting Karabakh through Azerbaijan's territory, they present
this as if it's heroism. But if you meet the head of a separatist, puppet regime, and basically recognise
his legitimacy, then it is unimportant how you got there," Nagi said.

He also expressed disquiet that the delegation had included Mikhail Shvidkoy, the head of the Russian
Cultural Agency, and appeared to have been initiated in Moscow. "The visit of the so-called Azerbaijan
intelligentsia to Karabakh contradicts the interests of Azerbaijan. This visit was conducted at the orders
of Russia. Russia is just demonstrating that the Karabakh conflict is completely under its control and that
it can make the two sides play by its rules any time it wants," he said.

Under the circumstances, therefore, it was not surprising that few observers expected positive results
from the trip. However, comments from President Aliev to Russian television after the visit suggested a
change of heart in Baku, which has previously been uncompromising in its opposition to any recognition
of Armenian rights to Azerbaijan's territory.

"As for the status of Nagorny Karabakh, that is a question of the future. A resolution of its status is not
one of the proposals accepted by us and under discussion at the moment," Aliev told Russia's RTR

"Of course, Azerbaijan will never agree to the independence of Nagorny Karabakh. I think Armenia
understands this. Today we must resolve the results of the conflict and secure an end of the occupation.
The security of all nationalities in Karabakh must be secured, after which communication must be
restored. We understand that Nagorny Karabakh must have a special status, and we see it as being
within Azerbaijan."

Despite Aliev's uncompromising refusal to countenance independence for the region, those were still
remarkably conciliatory remarks by the standards Baku has set since 1991.

"Over the last month there has been a flurry of activity in the Karabakh negotiations: an intense round
of diplomacy, the visit of the intellectuals to Karabakh and the first visit by Armenians to Baku in a long
time, [and] a more positive tone from many of the political leaders," said Tom de Waal, an analyst from
the NGO Conciliation Resources and an expert in Karabakh's history.

"President Aliev adopted a more moderate tone than I can remember in an interview on the Karabakh
issue. I was struck by the way he said that 'we understand the concerns of the people of Karabakh' and
that he said that the status of Karabakh is a 'matter for the future'. Now of course this was an interview
to Russian television. I think things will really change only when the presidents say this kind of thing to a
domestic audience, but it is a very positive signal."

Samira Ahmedbeili, Sara Khojoian and Anahit Danielian are IWPR contributors.
AGOS Weekly Turkish Armenian Newspaper
Stop jerking us around

It has been two and a half years since the murder of Hrant Dink, the founder of our newspaper. The
10th hearing of the trial will be held on 6 July, Monday. We have reached a point where the ‘deep’
will preventing the exposure of the powers behind the murder has managed to block the legal process
of the trial. It has proven impossible to bring the officials who were responsible for the murder or who
acted negligently in the process leading up to it to stand before the court. If, as claimed, the culprits
were only Samast, Hayal, Tuncel and their friends, then the case should have ended long ago.
However, it is clear that, fearing the reaction of the public, the court prefers to extend the case and
stretch out the process. This blockage can only be overcome if the court and the state fulfill their duty
and make the necessary effort to find those responsible.

Charges have not been brought against any of the public officials who were shown, in the reports of
the Prime Ministry Inspection Board or civil inspectors, to be responsible and negligent. Ramazan
Akyürek, the Trabzon Chief Constable at the time of the murder, was promoted to the Head of the
Intelligence Department, making it impossible to illuminate the dark areas of the case. Police officer
Muhittin Zenit, who was aware of all the details of the murder during the telephone call he made with
Erhan Tuncel half an hour after the assassination, was promoted to a position under Akyürek. The
questioning of Colonel Ali Öz was delayed until 18 months after the murder, by which point the
Colonel said he couldn’t remember many details. Celalettin Cerrah, Istanbul Chief of Police and
head of all the officials of the Istanbul Police who, according to the report of the civil inspectors,
“shared responsibility in the murder from the lowest to the highest level,” was appointed Mayor of
Osmaniye. Ahmet İlhan Güler, Istanbul Police Intelligence Department Head, escaped examination
on appeal even though civil inspectors had originally issued permission for him to be examined.
He, too, was appointed to a different post. Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Trabzon Police C Branch Director,
against whom the Prime Ministry Inspection Board report demanded a prior review, was appointed
Istanbul Police Intelligence Branch Head. MIT (National Intelligence Organization) officer Ö.Y.,
allegedly among those who threatened Dink at a meeting at the Istanbul Governorship, was
appointed to İzmir and promoted. At every turn, the requests of lawyers regarding these individuals
were refused by the court or rendered inconclusive because of the officials efforts to cover up the event.

The case drags on and on, but in fact, until necessary action is taken to expose the powers behind
those currently accused (currently accused are Ogün Samast, Yasin Hayal, Erhan Tuncel, Ahmet
İskender, Ersin Yolcu and their friends), the case effectively has not started. This will only extend the
psychological torture that we and especially the Dink family—who were subjected to racist attacks
by the accused and their lawyers throughout the hearings—have already suffered.

To have our consciences held captive like this, to be kept waiting this way, is unbearable for us.
Our hearts cannot take it. We have had enough. We can wait no longer.


Ara Sarafian: “Let's Discuss the Blue Book Face to Face”

On Friday 26th June 2009 Gomidas Institute released its uncensored edition of the 1916 British
Parliamentary Blue Book in Turkish translation. The launch was in Ankara.
A few days later, retired Turkish ambassador and chairman of the Institute for Armenian Research
in Ankara Omer Engin Lutem held a press conference, stating that this publication was part of a
change of strategy by advocates of Armenian Genocide claims. Mr. Lutem argued that now “the
Armenians” intensified their efforts to win over the Turks in Turkey and abroad to have them support
the Armenian theses and that they worked in close cooperation with many Turkish intellectuals to
this end. (Hurriyet, 1 July 2009).

I should say that I have been working in Turkey since the 1990s and enjoy good relations with many
Turkish intellectuals. Reaching out to Turkish audiences is part of a peaceful and democratic process:
Turkish audiences are intelligent enough to listen to alternative views, ask questions and make
informed judgments on critical issues. That is why Lord Avebury and I presented our views on the
Blue Book (and the Armenian Genocide) last Friday and invited questions from all quarters. As for
the recent interest shown by Turkish intellectuals in the Blue Book, which Mr. Lutem refers to as
suspicious “cooperation” with Armenians, such interest was triggered by TGNA and other
spokespersons of the Turkish theses which labeled the Blue Book a fabrication, nothing but a
collection of lies.

The Turkish edition of the Blue Book actually exposes the false claims the Grand National Assembly
made against the Blue Book in a letter to the British Parliament in 2005. The TGNA gave a false
account of the relevant published and archival sources underpinning the Blue Book. It denied the
existence of some key sources, gave misleading accounts of others, and introduced irrelevant issues.
Members of the British Parliament who examined and disagreed with the TGNA position made two
attempts to start a dialogue, but there was no response from Ankara. The Turkish edition of the
uncensored edition of the Blue Book was printed in Turkish so that those TGNA members who have
never seen this work, as well as Turkish audiences interested in the issue, could have access to
relevant materials and judge the Blue Book for themselves.

When the Turkish translation of the uncensored Blue Book was released in Ankara, the meeting
was open to all, including members of the Turkish press and the TGNA. The audience included
people who disparaged the Blue Book and they were allowed to speak. They raised points about
the current Armenian-Azeri conflict, the image of Turkish soldiers during WWI, and Ambassador
Morgenthau as the alleged source for the Blue Book. It would have been good to see members
of the TGNA, retired ambassadors and the head of ERAREN in the audience as well.

I am personally committed to open dialogue, which is why I came to launch the Blue Book in
Ankara and answer all questions from the audience. I wonder if any of my detractors, including
Omer Engin Lutem, would be willing to present and defend their views on the Blue Book in the
same manner? I would like to take this opportunity to invite Omer Engin Lutem and members
of the TGNA who drafted the TGNA petition to London to participate in a public meeting in Istanbul
to discuss their case against the Blue Book as a wartime fabrication.

[For more information about the 1916 British parliamentary report on the Armenian Genocide,
please contact info@gomidas.org or visit www.gomidas.org ]


Three Armenian Monasteries being restored in North Iran:

click on http://riowang.blogspot.com/2008/11/armenian-monasteries-in-iran.html
AN ARMENIAN CANON ! - Hasmik Leyloyan
click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX-6fv3kuJs&feature=related


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